TeenLit Book Reviews

May 2006


Carl Hiaasen

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen is a story about the tumultuous life of Roy Eberhardt. Moving from the mountains of Montana to the suburbs of Florida was the worst thing that could have happened to Roy Eberhardt, or so he thought. Heloved living in the mountains of Bozeman and everyday was a new adventure. When his dad was transferred to Florida, Roy was devastated. He couldn't imagine how there could be any excitement in the suburbs of Florida. His theories were soon proved wrong when he got caught up with some friends in an attempt to save baby owls. Their hilarious pranks and tricks intended to scare off the land-owners keep you laughing the whole time. I recommend Hoot to anybody who is looking for a fun, upbeat adventure. I would rate this book a 4 (with 4 being the best) for anyone looking for a good read, just in in time for summer.
Reviewed by Zach. Grade: ----- in Littleton, CO, - Link directly to entry

April 2006

The Guardian

Nicholas Sparks

I cannot even begin describing this book. Many words come to mind; astounding, marvelous, inspiring, anything along those lines. The main characters are Julie, Mike, Richard, and Julie's Great Dane, named Singer. They are all so realistic and vivid, I feel as if I could pass anyone of them on the street. (However, a Great Dane would be conspicuous in a small town.) Julie's husband, Jim, passes away when she is only twenty-five. Four years later, she is ready to start dating again. When a stranger, Richard Franklin, comes into town, they start dating. After a couple weeks, Julie decides that Richard doesn't "float her boat." She stops dating Richard because she finally begins to understand her feelings toward Mike, her husband's former best friend. When Julie tells Richard she doesn't want to see him anymore . . . I don't want to give it away- read the book! This is the first book by Nicholas Sparks thatI have read. I am really pleased the his romance novels are . . . well . . . romantic. Simply, utterly romantic. Most romance novels I've encountered weren't the least bit romantic. There is no downside to the book. Unless, of course, you count the chilling fear it gives you as a downside. I would definitely rate this book a 4.
Reviewed by Kirsten. Grade: ----- in Gibonsburg, OH, - Link directly to entry

March 2006

Lyra's Oxford

Philip Pullman

‘Lyra’s Oxford’ would be best for young people ages 12 and up. In Pullman's short novel, the main characters are; Lyra Silvertongue and her daemon, Pantalaimon. The setting (of course) is in Oxford, England. A witch’s daemon is sent to find a supposedly insane alchemist. However, the witch’s daemon isn’t used to cities, so it enlists Lyra’s and Pantalaimon’s help. One of the weaknesses’ is that to understand it fully, you have to have read Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. In addition, the other (to me) is that it is only fifty pages long. Its strength is that even though it is short, you can tell it is Pullman’s work, due to his distinctive, creative style and themes. He writes stories that should be digested thoroughly, instead of devoured.I like that it has a map of Oxford, and some pictures.
Reviewed by Kirsten S.. Grade: ----- in Gibsonburg, Ohio, US, - Link directly to entry

October 2005

The Center of the World

Andreas Steinhöfel (Translated by Alisa Jaffa)

Had I not had a transatlantic flight to fill, I never would have had the patience to finish this novel. The abstract, pretentious title gives no clue to the book’s content, but aptly describes the author’s opinion of himself. Although the novel was almost huge enough to bring the plane down into the ocean, nothing about the main character in all 466 pages, not even his name, has stuck in my memory. Oh, except he is gay, a fact that Andreas Steinhöfel expects us to find so riveting that no further characterization is necessary. I think the author is aiming at ‘gritty realism’, but he tends to miss this mark. His sub-plots are unlikely (featuring some unlikely sexual exploints), and his characters are unlikable. I recommend this book to you only if you are locked in a library, and have read every other book there. 0 out of 5.
Reviewed by Josh. Grade: 12th Grade in England, - Link directly to entry

The Burn Journals

Brent Runyon

This is not a book that could be called a joy to read, but it is one that I guarantee will leave a lifelong impression in your mind if you choose to subject yourself to it. Reading The Burn Journals often feels like reading fiction, in fact I got a chill every time I glanced at the cover, and was reminded that the central character has the author’s name. Being a teen is not easy, although few of us would decide to kill ourselves to escape it all. Brent Runyon did, at fourteen. Suicide remains a powerful taboo, and nowhere outside of this book could you find a more honest, up-front, or graphic confrontation of the issue. Somehow, you will find yourself strongly identifying with an eight-grader who set himself alight, you might begin to feel what it is to be a self-conscious, hormonal teen in a ruined body, but you will never understand what made Brent throw a gasoline-drenched towel round his shoulders and strike that match. This autobiography is suitable for all teens, a must-read for boys of Brent’s age especially. 5 out of 5.
Reviewed by Josh. Grade: 12th Grade in England, - Link directly to entry

August 2005

Garden of Angels

Lurlene McDaniel

Garden Of Angels is a touching and inspiring story about the Quinlin family. The story is set in 1974 in the small town of Conners, Georgia. It is a time when the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War and when few people knew and talked openly about breast cancer. The story is told from the point of view of Darcy, a straight A high school freshman who is not as popular or as pretty as her older sister, but is a very endearing character due to her strength, wisdom and courage. As the story unfolds, Darcy’s mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. While the Quinlin family struggles to accept this sad news, Darcy also struggles with the powerful feelings she has for Jason, the new boy in school. Amidst all the conflict in her life, she finds solace in her mother’s beautiful garden. Garden Of Angels has touched me so deeply that I was literally teary-eyed while reading the book. It has brought back memories from my own life, back to the time when my sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and I was one of the people who helped care for her. The story affirms the fact that regardless of time, setting or race, the emotional effects of cancer to the person diagnosed with it, as well as to the people who surrounds her, is basically the same. The pain of witnessing the one you love suffer, the emotional struggle, the hardship of letting go and finding the courage to move on is so skillfully and realistically portrayed in the story. If you like to read a story about the strength of a family, the beautiful relationship between mother and daughter, the ravages of war, falling in love for the first time and an unwavering faith in God, then Garden Of Angels is the book for you. Author Lurlene McDaniel really is a profound writer. I look forward to reading more of her work. I would rate this book a 4. I recommend it for any young adults or older.
Reviewed by Espie. Grade: ----- in Guam, - Link directly to entry


Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

I read the fiction novel Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Danica Shardae is the heir to the avian throne, the Tuuli Thea is the title she will inherit soon. Her guards tell her that she must be careful, as the only remaining heir, and that the serpiente, the culture her people have been at war with for longer than anyone can remember, are evil. No one can remember why they are fighting, how the war was started, or even what peace is, besides what is in songs. The only reason they are still at war, is because both cultures wont stop until someone has won, or they are just fighting to avenge all of those who were killed in the innumerable battles. After the loss of too many family members, friends, and people, Danica will do anything to stop this war, and maybe create a peace with the enemy she has never known anything other than lies an fear. Zane Cobriana is the heir to the serpiente throne, Diente is the title he will inherit when he chooses his mate. He has been raised in this bloody war fare, and is just as determined as Danica to end the war, if not more so. When they are both proposed with a plan that could end this war, but what they need is for them to be able to trust each other, and therefore have their people trust each other, but is trust more than they can give? I recommend this book to both boys and girls ages eleven and up. I would rate it a 4, on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the best. This book is a wonderful book that embraces what teenagers feel like, and what war can cause. All in all a wonderful book full of descriptions and emotion.
Reviewed by Madison. Grade: ----- in California, US, - Link directly to entry

August 2005

American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm

By, Gail Buckly and adapted for young people by, Tonya Bolden

I would recommend this book to teenagers in grades 6-8, regardless of gender. Anyone who has taken an American history class will know a lot of the information that is written in this book. American Patriots is a quick read (219 pages) and is very easy to understand. I would rate it a 3 (1-4, 4 being best). This book covers the following wars: The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, World War I, Spanish Civil War, World War II, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm. More information is written about modern wars (past 70 years), then is written for older wars. Eighty-four pages are written on Wars within the past 70 years. This is compared to 118 pages covering 150 years. One of the strong points of this book is that the author makes many personal connections involving her ancestors. Another positive aspect is that Gail Buckley tells the story of the war, and then goes back and says how the Blacks contributed to the American cause in that war. A third part of this book that I liked was that it was historically accurate. I did research on information I thought was questionable, but everything I checked was correct. The only major weakness of this book was that I knew a lot of the information on the wars from American History, and I could predict was going to happen next. In that respect this book was somewhat boring. Overall, I would suggest this book to a friend.
Reviewed by Joseph. Grade: ----- in Colorado, US, - Link directly to entry

Demon In My View

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Demon In My View is a stereotypical science fiction novel, but it does the cliche well. This book is a 4 on a 1-4 scale, 4 being the best, and is aimed at girls aged 14 to 17. The story chronicles a week (or so) in the life of Jessica Allodola, the highly intelligent loner who also happens to be an acclaimed author, writing under the psuedonym Ash Night. Things start getting a little weird when the characters in her book show up in her town and at her school. They're vampires to boot. Jessica forages into the nightmare world of her books to discover horrifying and sometimes darkly cool things about herself and the demon world she thought was only in her head. The author, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, writes superbly and creates a story that if simple in deliverance lacks nothing in plot and suspense. This book comes highly recommended especially since the author is a teenager.
Reviewed by Nicole. Grade: ----- in Colorado, US, - Link directly to entry

Goddess of Yesterday

Caroline B. Cooney

Goddess Of Yesterday, written by Caroline B. Cooney is a historical fiction book written about a young girl named Anaxandra, who, at the age of six, is taken as a hostage, and raised by her captor, King Nicander and his wife Petra. Raised as if she was their daughter, she is a happy, thriving young woman until the day the pirates came and burned her home. Orphaned, and left alone, she builds herself a shelter until king Menelaus comes and takes her with him. Assuming the identity of a princess, she is safe, until she meets Helen of Sparta who knows she is not a princess. When Paris of Troy robs the city, Anaxandra poses as Helen's daughter while the real princess escapes. Now what can she do? Should she assume the identity of another in order to survive? I recommend this to all girls about the ages of twelve to sixteen, although older girls might enjoy it also. On a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the best, I would rate this book a 3. It will help to know a bit about Greek mythology when reading this to help you understand how early Greeks based their behavior on their belief in the gods. This is a wonderful story that can take you right into the life of this struggling teenaged girl, who is caught in the middle of a war. Cooney puts so much description, and character building into this book you get caught up in it and forget you are not really aboard a ship during a storm, or watching Queen Helen at a feast.
Reviewed by Madison. Grade: ----- in California, US, - Link directly to entry

Trickster's Choice

Tamora Pierce

The new series, Trickster's Choice, by Tamora Pierce follows Aly, the daughter of the much loved Alanna from the Song of the Lioness series. The book follows after she is swept up by a race of people she has never known before, on an island she has only heard of in stories. When Aly goes sailing and is captured by pirates, she is sold as a slave on the Copper Isles. Bought by no one, she is given away with another slave to the Balitang family. But soon she learns that there is a reason behind her adventure. Kyprioth, the god of the sea around the Copper Isles, and a trickster, has chosen her to create the destiny of the Isles. He makes a wager with her. If she can keep the Balitang children safe for the entire summer, then he will send her home. It will be a long road, with many dangers ahead. But some times even things like friendship and love come out of the worst situations. Trickster's Choice, by Tamora Pierce, is a great story for anyone ages 13 to 17 who loves a good fantasy. I think that most readers will give it two thumbs up and won't be able to wait for the rest of the series to hit the bookstore.
Reviewed by Kelly. Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry

Mondays are Red

Nicola Morgan

Mondays Are Red by Nicola Morgan, is a fictional novel about Luke Patterson, a fourteen-year-old victim of synesthesia. After almost dying from meningitis, Luke wakes up from a coma with shifted senses- he begins associating colors with days and smells to music. He also encounters a terrifying yet intriguing monster in his head named Dreeg. Dreeg promises Luke unlimited power and a perfect girlfriend; Luke must resist these temptations in order to save his soul from complete deterioration. I found Mondays Are Red to be a captivating and slightly dark novel that highlights the versatility and endless possibilities of the English language. I rate this book a 3 (1-4, with 4 being the best). Nicola Morgan uses endless adjectives and descriptions to accurately depict the mind of someone with synesthesia and describe how the disease's curious powers affect somebody's creativity. Her writing is strongly related to poetry and the imagery she uses is wonderfully detailed. The only criticism I have is that the plot tends to be somewhat far-fetched and unrealistic. I recommend this book for middle-school students because it is not challenging to read and sparks creativity.
Reviewed by May. Grade: ----- in Rhode Island, US, - Link directly to entry

February 2005

Trickster's Choice

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes Risika is one of those who few vampires who homans see in her true form, or at least not outside of the shadows of the night. She is a vampire and has been for about three hundred years. At one time she went by the name of Rachel, but that person has long been gone, pushed away by the need to survive. Risika is still not at peace with who she is and the others of her kind. Only through facing the truth can she find what she is looking for. In the Forests of the Night is another of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ great fiction stories that introduces the reader to the mystical world of vampires. Just as with her previous books, Amelia has managed to create a great story with wonderful description and plot. On a scale of one to four (four being the best) I would place this at 3.75. It is an easy read, appropriate for teens ages 13 to 16, and would appeal to anyone who enjoys the world of fantasy writing. Kelly S., Parker CO, USA
Reviewed by . Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry

Alias: Disappeared

book by Lynn Mason Rating: 3 For ages 13 and up. In Disappeared, college studen and amateur spy for the CIA, Sydney Bristow, is on her second mission, on which she has to pretend to be a dangerous arms dealer. She goes to Scotland and stay at a haunted old castle with other arms dealers, and she is all on her own, unlike in the first book. This is Sydney needs to use all her spy training to survive. Although I like the story, this book is not as good as Alias: A Secret Life. The castle is described very well, but the rest of the scenery and characters are sketchy. But this book has enough action and excitement to keep me reading so I give this book a 3 out of 4. Lucy L.,Dallas, Texas
Reviewed by . Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry

Alias- A Secret Life

by Laura Peyton Roberts Rating: 4 For ages 13 and up. A Secret Life, is based on the tv show, Alias. In this book, the main character, Sydney Bristow, is a college student who also happens to be a spy for the CIA. She gets sent to Paris to pose as a rich wife of an internet millionaire so she can find out if a clothing designer is laundering money is actually corrupt. This is Sydney's first assignment, so she is nervous at first. She gets into the assignment well when she finds out that Noah Hicks, an agent she likes, is posing as her husband. I gave this book a 4 out of 4 because it kept my interest the entire time. I like how the author described Paris in detail and how I can relate to Sydney, even though she is a spy. This book is well-written and the action is great. I especially like knowing how a spy works. This is a fun book to read! Lucy, Dallas, Texas
Reviewed by . Grade: ----- in , - Link directly to entry
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